2. Big Love
Polygamy may not be mainstream, but it certainly made for great drama on HBO. From 2006 to 2011, Big Love followed the life of Mormon businessman Bill Henrickson and his three wives. In order for the series to work, the characters had to be relatable, even if their lifestyle wasn’t. And Paxton absolutely was. His Bill was humble, strong, demanding, and imperfect. He fought against his own weaknesses to be the man he thought his family needed. Paxton made Bill into someone we recognized, which was important, because in some ways Big Love was about how easy it is to miss the huge secrets that our friends, family members, and neighbors keep from us.
Big Love was often overshadowed by other HBO series of the time, like Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, and The Wire. But Paxton consistently turned in some of the most nuanced and understated performances of his career in his portrayal of Bill Henrickson.